“Black Panther” Claws to the Top
Marvel’s Black Panther
Starring Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis
Directed by Ryan Coogler (Based the Marvel Comic by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby)
My Rating: *****/5
“Black Panther” is the latest installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Director Ryan Coogler has not only delivered another great installment for Phase 3, he has easily crafted one of the best films in the 10-year history of Marvel Studios and the comic book superhero genre as a whole.
The film opens on a prologue that details not only the history of Wakanda and a key event in Oakland, CA in 1992, but plays a large part in this summer’s “Avengers: Infinity War.” In the film’s timeline, one week has passed since the events of “Captain America: Civil War.” T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) must not only take his father’s place as king, but also take on the mantle as Black Panther to defend his homeland and the world against threats such as Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) and corrupt weapons dealer Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis). Using his skill as a fighter and a host of vibranium-powered weaponry, T’Challa emerges as both warrior and king alongside allies such as his former lover Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), his bodyguard Okoye (Danai Gurira), and CIA Agent Everett K. Ross (Martin Freeman) in a stunning landmark for Marvel and easily their best film since “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”
As the director of films such as the “Rocky” spinoff “Creed” and the underrated drama gem “Fruitvale Station,” Coogler has a great eye for character drama and flashy action alike. On a lavish $200 million budget, Wakanda makes its mark as one of the most distinct worlds Marvel has crafted over the years. Much like the comic the film is based on, the country blends traditional African tribal motifs with more otherworldly technology and weapons. With spectacular fights in locales such as London and South Korea, the film blends some of the best action scenes in the franchise with a visual flair that would not be out of place in films such as the “James Bond” or “Kingsman” series. Despite arguably being one of the darkest films Marvel has done, it also has a sense of witty humor, thanks to a script Coogler co-wrote alongside Joe Robert Cole.
While the film may not be the first attempt at a superhero blockbuster with a main cast led by primarily African-American actors; it is easily the biggest landmark for Marvel since the original “Blade” hit theaters in 1998. The film easily ranks alongside the first “Iron Man” and “The Dark Knight” in films that blend blockbuster spectacle with topical allegories for real-world issues.
It is a magnificent 134-minute epic that easily does for African-American superhero films what last year’s “Wonder Woman” did for female ones.
With the film shattering critical and commercial records, “Black Panther” is a film that is not to be missed. Even with “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Ant-Man & The Wasp” in the wings for this summer, Marvel has easily given us one of their best films yet. “WAKANDA FOREVER!”